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Flowery Branch City Council reviews Old Town upgrades

POSTED: December 6, 2013 12:16 a.m.

Flowery Branch city planner John McHenry presented City Council with a draft Thursday night of its marketing analysis and redevelopment plan for the city’s historic and commercial gateway district.

The budgeted $95,000 redevelopment plan, paid for by tax allocation district funds, focuses on the Old Town district, its economic viability and redevelopment opportunities, as well as surrounding transportation and infrastructure recommendations.

“It’s really still a draft,” McHenry said of the broad brush overview of the consultant’s recommendations.

Consultant Pond & Co. will formally present its findings at next month’s council meeting. Thursday’s preview unveiled the plan to the public and gave the council a time window for further input.

The final redevelopment plan is expected to address not only retail opportunities for the Main Street and future Pine Street extension, but recommends future residential use of the former Mooney Manufacturing site next to the Antebellum restaurant on Main Street.

A shortage of downtown parking also has been addressed; a passive park, public plaza and enhancements of city-owned property along Lake Lanier also are noted. Other ideas include the extension of Lights Ferry Road between McEver Road and Atlanta Highway, as well as a roundabout and more formal city “gateway” on Mitchell Street.

A new government center consolidating city services is planned along Railroad Avenue. Locating it parallel to Atlanta Highway will open up space along Main Street for additional retail shops and lend visibility to the Old Town district.

Underpinning it all is a much-needed reworking of the sewer and city’s stormwater system. Plans, including a study and cost projections, have been completed.

“If we’re really looking at doing development in the downtown area, we really need a storm system,” McHenry said.

Ultimately, the completion of such a plan is another tool for economic redevelopment of the city center.

“Such a plan will help maximize strategic public investments by creating a blueprint for private development in the area,” noted the initial Tax Allocation District Advisory staff report.

“The fact that we have the framework for this, it’s really greasing the wheel,” McHenry said.

City Manager Bill Andrew, who recently spent about three hours with a developer aware of the study’s preliminary findings said, “We do think this is creating some traction.”

Two other developers inquired into the city’s vision for its future downtown.

In additional council business, a lease for a retail space at 5509 Main St. was approved by the council. Growlers on Main Street will offer specialty beers available for onsite sampling and bottling to take home. It is expected to open in February.


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